Enemy At The Gates: McDonalds Marches To Wanaka.

It’s the end of civilization as we know it.

McDonald’s is coming to Wanaka – providing the development friendly local council gives them consent.

What’s more, it will be the first building many will see as they come into this gem of a tourist town on either State Highway 6 from Christchurch and Dunedin or Highway 84 from the West Coast.

(That intersection at the foot of Mt Iron is being made safer with a roundabout, but at the same time a significant commercial area is being developed with McDonald’s planning to be part of it.)

One of the great joys of living in this region is that it is McDonald’s free. The nearest Golden Arches are in Queenstown, an hour away.

Alexandra, Cromwell and Wanaka have all resisted the urge to inflict a Big Mac on their population.

Funnily enough you hardly ever see a fat kid, or adult for that matter, around these places.

Wanaka has been especially staunch in its opposition. Even before the population surge of the last five years, the activism to keep McDonald’s and their ilk out of town was visible.

I remember signing a petition as a holiday home owner around 2011 which was organized by BIFF – Ban International Fast Foods. The petition asked the Queenstown Lakes Council and the Wanaka Community Board to keep the likes of Maccas out of town until 2020.

That mostly worked, although Subway are on the waterfront and Dominos are up towards the top of the main Ardmore Street.

But the imminent arrival of McDonalds is already a step too far for many locals. A petition opposing the plan had attracted 450 signatures within 24 hours of being launched.

As the petition organizer Sarah Morrison wrote “as a community that prides itself on health, wellness and its beautiful natural environment, McDonalds goes against all of our core community values. This international fast food giant, responsible for mass distribution of unhealthy food to an increasingly obese population, and its extensive food waste and pollution does not belong in our beautiful home.”

To which you can only say Amen.

The only encouraging news from a council likely to shepherd through the planning applications, is that the application will be publicly notified, meaning there can be objections from the public.

Expect plenty.

Wanaka has severe growing pains but it can do without a junk food palace at its main entrance.

For more from Peter, listen to Pete's Ponderings on RCR.

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Peter Williams
Peter Williams scarcely needs an introduction. He is a veteran of New Zealand broadcasting with more than 40 years in the industry. Peter has worked for various media outlets, including TVNZ, Radio New Zealand & Sky Sport, and is considered one of New Zealand's most talented and experienced broadcasters. More recently Peter has made a return to speaking on the national stage to highlight issues that he sees as critical to the future success of New Zealand .

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    Simon February 11, 2024 at 12:24 am - Reply

    I'd love to buy you a ticket to the Festival of colour if you'd join me to go to a certain conversation Peter? I think we might enjoy ourselves…


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